Handmade at Amazon

I’m ecstatic to announce that you can now find Blue Dasher Crafts on Amazon!!

Amazon recently opened a handmade section of their enormous internet empire, and we were invited to take part in the opening. So far, we have had a wonderful experience with Amazon, and have received far more exposure and sales from the Amazon store than our Etsy shop.

We may eventually move everything over to Amazon and close the Etsy shop, but that’s a long ways off.

Our most popular products on Amazon have been surprising actually. Four different bracelets have sold multiple times. Out of those four, our aquamarine and carnelian bracelet is the most popular:

The term mobile home usually conjures up images of stereotypical “trailer park trash” similar to Joy Turner in My Name is Earl. In fact, we watched the four season series twice before we moved into our mobile home just to get into the spirit!

My Nme is Earl

When we were looking for a home, we realized we’d never get our credit cleaned up in time to get a decent mortgage before we had to get out of the rental we were in (we only had 3 months); so we looked for a different solution such as other rentals, for sale by owner etc. Although living in a mobile home was never on the table, mainly because of the whole “trailer” stigma.

But when you’re desperate, you make choices you wouldn’t normally make, and sometimes they lead to changes in your perceptions of life.

This one did just that.

Can Buying Handmade Change the World

I recently read an article on the New York Times website that attempted to answer this exact question. The article Sorry, Etsy. That Handmade Scarf Won’t Save the World. was written by Emily Matchar, an articulate writer who delved into the issue thoroughly for the brevity of the article. I actually enjoyed reading it because it was so well written. Being a writer myself, that says a lot.

In the first three paragraphs, the author points out the irony surrounding handmade goods and their pricing. A store bought sweater, for example, can cost $20 or less at Walmart, but a hand-knit sweater can cost well over $100 on Etsy. Back in the 1930s and 1940s, handmade was free, and many families only survived because they wore only handmade clothes.

Almost every family had someone who could make by hand what they needed. These handmade arts were ubiquitous. (Interestingly, during the Great Depression, people used whatever they had on hand to make what they needed. Recycling at its best.)

In today’s world, not everyone knows how to knit or crochet clothing or grow food in a garden organically. Hence the increase in cost of handmade goods and organically grown food. It’s supply and demand.

I’ve been on vacation for the past week, and thoroughly enjoying myself. But on Thursday, I somehow through my back out while doing some cleaning, which left me on the couch for the rest of the week.

In order to keep myself from getting bored and spending too much time on my phone playing World at Arms (which is really addictive!), I decided to work on some of the crochet projects that I’ve been wanting to finish for the shop.

One of these projects is a new product that is actually a set and perfect for those on the go. For example, I live about 18 miles from work, which isn’t a long haul, but it means if I forget something I can’t go home to get it because it’s 30 minutes each way. This set keeps me from losing anything and makes it easy to carry everything without having to carry more than one bag. My husband called it the “on the go” collection.

I love tax season. Granted, I probably wouldn’t if I owed the IRS, but (knock on wood) that hasn’t happened yet. Every year I file as soon as I get my W2. This year, the IRS started processing returns on January 20th. I filed on the 19th.

I got my refund on Friday, WOOHOO!!!

My first purchase was a new lens for my camera that I’ve been drooling over for the past year. If your new to the blog, you probably don’t know that I’m absolutely in love with my camera. It’s a Nikon D5100, and it was the best money I’ve ever spent.

I love to photograph nature, dragonflies specifically. I don’t know why, but I’m obsessed with getting the clearest images of these little guys that I can, and my camera is amazing, even with the stock lens. But I had to get within inches of the little guys to get close enough images (it’s a 55mm lens). Not all dragonflies are cooperative enough to let me get that close, especially the rare ones. You know, the ones I really want to get shots of like the huge darners that never land.

The lens I finally purchased is a 55mm – 300mm lens, which means I can be four feet away from my dragonflies and still get those incredibly close shots that I want. I received the lens yesterday and of course went right out to play with it.

I started taking shots of flowers, trees and other flora.

I’ve been working on a baby blanket for some time now, and unfortunately, I ran out of the yarn I was using before I got to finish it. The yarn I was using is Bernat Softee Baby, but the color I was using is no longer being made.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to finish the blanket, and I think I finally came up with the perfect way to do it.

Upcoming Baby Blanket

I found an eyelash yarn in baby pink that I had laying around and thought it would make the perfect border for this little blanket.

The crochet pattern I’m using gives this blanket a very frilly/lacey border. But I made this blanket with the frilly edging for my daughter eight years ago, but unfortunately the edging has not only become torn from the blanket itself, the edging itself has also started to fall apart.

The filly edging looks pretty, but it’s not practical for a baby or toddler. I wanted to make this blanket one that could be passed down and be able survive an umpteen number of washings.

Greg's Blue Eyes

I’m not just the owner of Blue Dasher Crafts, I’m a real person too! There’s a lot more to me than just the business, so this post is all about me. Here are 12 things you probably don’t know about me.


12 Things You Don’t Know About Me

1) I tend to be a rather eccentric individual. I’m more of an introverted loner than an extrovert people person. Although I’m good with people, and can get along with just about anyone, I’m much prefer the solitude of my own home and family. I could very easily become a recluse if I didn’t have to work outside the home or run errands like grocery shopping etc.

2) I love crafting, especially crochet, cross stitch, jewelry making and scrapbooking. Unfortunately, I haven’t scrapped in a couple of years, mainly because I haven’t had the time or the money, so I’m a bit behind. Cross stitch and crochet are my two favorite crafts. I find them very relaxing, and I love watching a piece take shape as I crochet away!

3) I love the eyeball. You probably know this one too because I spent so many years in ophthalmology. But you may not know that the first thing I’ll notice about someone is whether or not they have a muscle deviation (if their eyes are crossed), or any other ocular abnormality. Whenever I look at someone’s eyes, my brain automatically goes into observation mode and I notice things like the “hills and valleys” in their iris muscles, their pupil size, the lenses in their glasses which can tell me if they’re nearsighted or farsighted. It’s an occupational hazard I guess. Oh, and I’m a sucker for blue eyes. Yes, my husband has blue eyes.

I love to read, I just don’t have make the time to do it like I should. One of my goals this year is to read a minimum of 40 books (all of which must be over 100 pages) and make time to read for at least an hour per day. Apparently the “reading challenge” is a popular resolution this tear because even Mark Zuckerberg made it one of his resolutions. He dedicated a whole page to the challenge on Facebook where everyone can read the book he’s reading and discuss it.

Last year I tried to do the reading challenge on GoodReads, but I started way too late in the year and only ended up reading four books. But that’s better than what I’ve done in the past! This year I’m starting early with the challenge and even made up a reading list with 85 books, more than what I plan on reading, but I’m hoping that will inspire me to reach and exceed my 40 book goal.

I purchased this planner from Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler and I LOVE it!

I purchased this planner from Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler and I LOVE it!

I love New Year’s. I get to set new goals, and I get to put my planner together for the year, which is my favorite part. I love picking out new printables and putting together the book that will keep me organized for the year.

This year I put my 2015 planner together with my 2015 blogging planner as well as my 2015 Blue Dasher Crafts planner. I really need to think about getting a bigger binder, things are a bit tight in my favorite pink one!

While I put my planner together, I think about what I want to accomplish during the upcoming year. I came up with quite a few goals for 2015. Here’s what I’m planning for Blue Dasher Crafts this year.

ALthough Blue Dasher Crafts has gotten a late start this year, we created a new line of crochet goodies for winter. My friend Melina has joined me in this business venture and she created this line of winter fashion herself.

You can now find crochet winter scarves and scarf and hat sets in our little shop. They are available in just about any color via custom order, but here are the sets we have available that are ready for shipping:

You may have noticed that the blog has been undergoing a few changes recently. I’ve given up on being a “mommy blogger.” It’s just not me, and I can’t be something I’m not. But I am still blogging about fitness and homeschooling. Those are things I really enjoy writing about, so those two blogs will be around for awhile.

I have not given up on my dream of being an entrepreneur. I’m still freelancing as a writer, and of course, I still write articles on Hubpages. But recently, I’ve been doing a lot of crocheting. I love to crochet. It’s a very relaxing hobby, and it’s portable! I can take it with me to work and crochet during lunch. I can crochet while I’m watching The Walking Dead on TV. Although, during the mid season 5 finale, I was glued to the TV and crying at the end, so there was no crocheting!

I also enjoy making jewelry and have found many of my patients asking me about my earrings and bracelets since I wear them to work. So I decided to try the Etsy shop again.

I started it back in 2013 and never really did anything with it. But now, it’s getting my full attention. Well, most of my attention anyway. I finally decided on a name: Blue Dasher Crafts. The name comes from my favorite little dragonfly the Blue Dasher (see how I snuck my dragonfly obsession in there?).

blue dasher dragonfly

This blog is now going to be the heart and soul of Blue Dasher Crafts. I’ll be sharing a behind the scenes look at how items in my shop are made and where the inspiration came for new items that are added. But I’ll also be writing about my life as an entrepreneur. There’s some funny stories there, trust me!

I thought a lot about what I wanted my shop to be. What sets Blue Dasher Crafts apart from many of the other stores on Etsy is that all of our crocheted items are completely vegan. We only use 100% organic cotton, recycled cotton or acrylic yarn. We never use anything that has been made from animal. As most of you know, I have a gigantic soft spot for animals, and that is what drove me to offer a line of handmade gifts and accessories that are cruelty free.

We also use recycled packaging for shipping our products. It’s nothing fancy, but it is earth-friendly! We offer “fancier” packaging for those who want to order their items as a gift. I just have to find fancier recycled gift packaging!

I’m excited about this new venture, and more importantly, I enjoy the work! I also feel like I’m doing something for the environment while not harming any animals to make my products. It’s a good feeling.

We’re constantly adding new products, so check back often to see what’s new. You can also find all of my photography in the Etsy shop available for instant download. Enjoy!

What products would you like to see at Blue Dasher Crafts? Tell us in the comments below!

I’m a creative person at heart. I love photography, scrapbooking, crocheting and making jewelry in my spare time among other crafts. I find it calming and relaxing, and my life has been pretty stressful lately. The more stressful life is, the more I seem to be drawn to crafting.

Over the years I’ve collected quite a few finished (and even more unfinished) projects, so I decided to open a shop on Etsy. I called it Blue Dasher Crafts after my favorite dragonfly, the Blue Dasher. This month (November 2014) I’m holding a Grand Opening sale to celebrate! Use code BDCNOV to get 20 percent off your order before November 30, 2014. Don’t forget, we happily accept custom orders!

Blue Dasher Crafts

Recently, I’ve been getting back to crocheting. I taught myself how to crochet shortly after my car accident in 1999, and I’ve been crocheting ever since, albeit sporadically. It’s probably my favorite hobby out of all of them (and there are several!), most likely because I can take my crochet projects just about anywhere. My latest project is a crochet baby blanket that I’m making to sell in the Etsy shop.

Puffed Hearts Crochet Baby Blanket

My latest project: the Puffed Hearts Crochet Baby Blanket

Eden, Dawn: The Chronicles of Paradise

I love to read. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to pick up a book, let alone open it recently. My plate has been overflowing with stuff going on and I’m lucky I have time to workout in the morning.

But I make time to do that.

I realized I need to make time for things that are important to me, and reading is important. It stimulates the mind and improves vocabulary. It also improves my writing skills. So, it’s something I need to do.

I started out by creating a 2014 Summer Reading Challenge for Sam and I. It was kind of like our own little book club. Although we weren’t reading all of the same books, there were a few young adult novels that we were both reading. One of which was Eden, Dawn: The Chronicles of Paradise by Archer Swift.

I had 33 books on my summer reading list. Sam had about 15. But I wanted to keep reading after the summer, so to keep myself motivated, I joined the 2014 Reading Challenge on GoodReads.

I decided to start with a realistic goal this year since I am starting in June and increase the number next year. I’m going to try to read 40 books by the end of 2014.

I already finished one.

Eden, Dawn: The Chronicles of Paradise Book Review

Eden, Dawn: The Chronicles of Paradise

I started reading this book on June 4th, and finished it on the 10th. Considering I work part time and do freelance writing along with homeschooling and blogging in my spare time, that was pretty quick. If I could have sat there for two days straight to read this book, I would have. It was just that good.

Eden, Dawn is the first book of a trilogy. Eden, Noon will becoming out in October and Eden, Dusk is set to be released in 2015.

I refuse to give away spoilers, but I’ll do my best to give you the gist of the story, which takes place on another planet. Earth has been destroyed and the survivors have made their way to an Earth-like planet they call Eden. I’ll leave the description of the planet to the book since Swift does a wonderful job of painting a picture of this beautiful world.

The survivors have been on this planet for 10 years. Most of them have died. They are divided into clans of no more than 25 people and littered around the planet in an effort to protect themselves from them.

I love how the author refers to the nemesis of the survivors as them. It makes you feel the pure hatred they have for this humanoid alien race, which has killed many of their clan and elder leaders and taken most of their women.

I don’t want to say too much about the Zikalic (the aliens) because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. Learning about the aliens as you read the book is essential to the development of both the characters and the plot.

The book focuses on one character – Ristan Abel. A seventeen year old boy, who becomes a young man over the course of the story. He has lost his parents as well a girl he thought was the love of his life.

Ristan finds himself thrown in the middle of an elaborate plot to destroy the human race that starts with dissension in his own clan. He realizes that one of his own clan members is in cohoots with the youngest of the  elder leaders and then simply by chance finds out that something much more sinister is happening. There are traitors among the survivors.

I have to confess, at one point in the book, I knew what was going to happen before it did, and put the book down. I thought the rest of the story was going to be just as predictable, and I commented about it on Good Reads.

But after about 24 hours of thought, I realized that the author had succeeded in engrossing me in this story up until that point, maybe the rest of the book had a few twists I didn’t anticipate. At the same time, the author contacted me and explained why the part was written that way, which told me I had made the right choice.

I was not disappointed.

Incidentally, if you’d like to read the author’s explanation in his own words, you can read it on his blog here.

The rest of the story unfolds in a way that had me glued to the screen of my kindle for about four hours (during a thunderstorm, which really added to the experience).

This was my first time reading a book in this genre, and I found it because it was recommended as a free book on Amazon through Jungle Deals. But I would have gladly paid for the book because it’s the best I’ve read in a long time. I’m glad I chose it as the first book in my reading challenge.

If you’re interested in reading the book, you can still get it for free on Amazon. If you’d like to know more about Archer Swift you can visit his blog (which I highly recommend). If you’d like to see what else I have on my Summer and 2014 reading list, you can find me on Good Reads.

I am, I admit it. They give me that sad little “help me” look and my heart crumbles. It’s one of the two main reasons I’m vegan.

My own pets have me wrapped around their little paw. They know exactly how to manipulate me, and they are so good at it.

In the past two days, I’ve rescued five different animals from a plight. Many people may consider these animals inconsequential and not worth rescuing. But I can’t help feeling sorry for any animal that gets trapped, injured or is otherwise unable to help itself.

Yesterday, I rescued a tree frog who made the sad mistake of jumping into my house. With six cats, if I hadn’t caught him, he would have been dead in minutes. Shortly after that, I went out with Sam to chase dragonflies, and Sam found a butterfly that couldn’t fly. He could glide, but I think he was too weak to fly. Here’s the butterfly:

Such a beautiful dragonfly

I’ve always really liked dragonflies. I think they are really pretty. But I’ve never been a fan of insects. In fact, you could say I really hate them.

Well, I used to anyway…

Recently, I joined a group on Facebook from which I’ve been unable to break away. I’m constantly admiring the photos that other people are uploading. I’m also enjoying learning how to identify the various species of this gorgeous insect. For example:

A Female Amber Wing Dragonfly

A Female Amber Wing Dragonfly